Solar not to blame for UK's renewable subsidies overspend


It is well documented that solar has fallen out of favor of the British government, and one clear reason that had been presented for this was the GBP 2 billion overspend on renewable subsidies under the Levy Control Framework (LCF). However, a National Audit Office (NAO) report shows that solar only accounts for 6% of the overspend, which brings into questions the harsh treatment of the solar industry within the country.

The LCF was a policy of controlling consumer expenditure on renewable energy sources, by placing a cap on the subsidies that would be given to renewable power generators. However, in 2015, it was made clear that the cap was being exceeded, as a result of a fall in fossil fuel electricity prices and a higher adoption of renewable energy under the scheme than had been expected.

The overspend between January 2015 and June 2015 chimed to the tune of GBP 2 billion, with solar baring much of the blame from a disgruntled government. However, a new NAO report brakes down the reasons for the overspend, proving that solar only played a very minor role.

In fact, according to the report, a large majority of the GBP 2 billion overspend was a result of offshore and onshore wind adoption, accounting for a total of GBP 1,250 million between the two, compared to just GBP 130 million a result of solar. Even anaerobic digestion accounted for more of the overspend than solar, at GBP 140 million.

However, despite the minor role that solar played in the overspend, the industry still suffered the harshest consequences as a result. The government has ripped the subsidy schemes away from solar technology, resulting in a popular technology stagnating in the U.K.

“The unexpected growth in solar power was repeatedly fingered as a key reason for the overspend on renewables,” commented Solar Trade Association CEO Paul Barwell. “In fact, NAO analysis shows solar accounts for only 6% of the overspend – but solar has borne the brunt of corrective measures. That’s a great shame when the technology has become so popular and is now so affordable. We hope the new Department will take stock of the low cost impact of solar and act to restore confidence to the sector.”